Agency tackles health issues

First Class Supply team members at its new Blyth Workspace office.
First Class Supply team members at its new Blyth Workspace office.

An education recruitment agency has joined the fight to help tackle the rising problem of mental health issues in schools.

First Class Supply, the largest provider of supply teachers to schools in Northumberland, is now offering a mental health first aid programme for classroom staff.

The course will cover key topics around young people’s mental health and wellbeing, with a focus on how to spot the early signs of problems and how to support young people experiencing mental distress.

First Class Supply director Steph Boulton said: “We have been working with health professionals in this area for some time now, and we are pleased to be providing a nationally-recognised mental health first aid programme to our partner schools. The first course was held last week at the Whitley Bay-based agency’s new office in Blyth, and it will be followed by a rolling programme of sessions starting next month.

Government data shows that about three children in every class have a diagnosable mental health disorder, and the issue was a major topic at the seventh Schools North East Annual Summit, held in Newcastle in October.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s children and young people’s services team has seen the numbers of referrals for mental health issues triple in some areas over the past three years, with the self-harm group in some areas almost doubling in size.